Royal art warehouse expected to get green light despite concerns raised by Historic England

Victoria Ward
·2-min read
Buckingham Palace is undergoing major renovations - Anthony Devlin/PA
Buckingham Palace is undergoing major renovations - Anthony Devlin/PA

The construction of a Royal Collection storage facility in the grounds of Windsor Castle is expected to get the go-ahead this week despite concerns raised by Historic England over its “detrimental” impact.

The proposed structure is the size of eight tennis courts and will be built within the walled garden, several hundred yards from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's home, Frogmore Cottage. It is expected to remain in place for five years. 

The Royal Household sought planning permission for the facility last year after months searching for an appropriate storage solution proved fruitless.

It will house thousands of items from the Royal Collection, including precious paintings, porcelain, tapestries and furniture, that will be removed from Buckingham Palace during a £369million refurbishment.

Documents lodged with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council state that the proposed store is “urgently” needed as the work has already begun and “there are no alternative sites or facilities that meet the specific and necessary storage requirements.”

Historic England has expressed concerns that such a large temporary structure in what should be a garden space would entail a degree of harm to the significance of the gardens, designed and built in the early 1840s as a new kitchen garden for Windsor Castle.

In a letter to the council it noted that the plan was described in Gardeners’ Chronicle at the time as “perhaps the most perfect Garden in Europe, of its kind,” combining “a certain beauty of appearance… with the most admirable arrangements for the great object of its institution, namely the supply of the Royal tables with the finest fruits and vegetables which skill can produce.”

Historic England warned that the proposals would have a detrimental impact on the setting of the listed building and “overall landscape” surrounding the Royal Gardens.

It said the structure’s large scale and size would entail “disruptive views” and also raised concerns about potential harm to buried archaeological deposits.

However, it suggested that in the absence of any alternative, any harm could be mitigated by the restoration of the historical character of the former kitchen garden. 

Susan Sharman, the council’s case officer, has expressed optimism that the proposal will get the green light when its Development Management Panel meets on Wednesday.

In a letter to Ian Ratcliffe, the project manager, in April she said she had recommended that the application be approved.

The panel has been urged to "defer and delegate" the application to the National Planning Casework Unit for approval, subject to conditions.